A major shopping complex of Lucknow, Hazratganj Market is situated in Parivartan Chowk area of Hazratganj in the centre of the city. Built by Amjad Ali Shah in 1810, the market was earlier located on Queens Way on which the British used to drive their carriages.
With the passage of time, it has made forays into the narrow winding streets of the city. A beautification drive launched in 2010-11 has ensured the installation of bright lights, fountains and benches that have given the road a Victorian era ambience. Hazratganj market comprises bazaars, shopping malls, classy showrooms, hotels, PVR film theatres, Fun Cinemas, restaurants, food courts and offices.
Name anything and you can get it here including the latest cars, jewellery, antiques, handicraft items and above all, the famed Lucknow Chikan material. The market is home to several brand names in consumer products including Big Bazaar Superstore, Gurjari Handloom Emporium, Gandhi Ashrams selling handicraft items and the five storey Sahara Ganj Mall sprawling more than 425,000 sq ft area.
The development of Aminabad as a market place in Lucknow was started by Shah Alam Second during 1759-1806. He built an Imambara, Feelkhana, and also a number of shops along the side of a garden. After his death, his wife disposed off the property to Imdad Hussain Khan Aminaddaula, a minister to Nawab Wajid Ali Khan.
He developed more gardens, parks, built big houses, a mosque, and a market and named the area Aminabad. The sprawling market complex in Aminabad also has a park which was inaugurated by the then Lieutenant General Hewitt on February 18, 1911.
Aminabad is the heart of Lucknow. The market is more than 165 years old. It is, in fact, a conglomerate of a number of markets including Partap Market, Swadeshi Markets, Mohan Market among many others. Some of the shops such as Tunde Kabab, Dwivedi Sarees, Prakash Kulfi and Matabadal Pansari have become brand names.
Chota Imambara or the small shrine is, in fact, a magnificent monument in Lucknow. Also called Hussainabad Imambara, it was built in the year 1838 by Mohammad Ali Shah, the third Nawab of Awadh. It is situated near the Chowk in the old city area of Lucknow. The Imambara was built as the last resting place - mausoleum of the Nawab.
It houses his grave and also the graves of his family members. Since it was built during the famine, it provided livelihood through the Food for Work Program to thousands of labourers who worked for its construction. The design of Chota Imambara with its gilded white dome, turrets and minarets are based upon the Charbagh pattern.
The extensive use of glass work in the building reflects Persian style of architecture. The walls are inscribed with Arabic calligraphy. Chota Imambara is also called the Palace of Lights given that it is illuminated during the festivals. The chandeliers decorating the interior of the monument were imported from Belgium.
Firangi Mahal is located between Victoria Road and the Chowk in Lucknow. The grand monumental building got its name from the fact that it belonged to Europeans, called Firangis. It, in fact, belonged to a French businessman named Neal who lived here with other French traders during the reign of Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb.
The palatial residence was, however, confiscated by the government under a royal decree on the ground that it was owned by a foreigner. It was transferred to the Emperor’s consultants on Islamic matters, Mullah Asad bin Qutab Shaheed and his brother Mullah Asad bin Qutab uddin Shaheed.
The two brothers converted this house into a grand Islamic institution whose status was often compared with Cambridge and Oxford Universities of England. Mahatma Gandhi also spent a few days in Firangi Mahal and the room where he stayed has been dedicated to his memory. Firangi Mahal has made a significant contribution to the preservation and enhancement of Islamic culture and tradition.
Gautam Buddha Park is the latest addition to the numerous historical parks and monuments of Lucknow. It is believed that Gautam Buddha spent a major part of his life in Uttar Pradesh and that the earlier name of Lucknow was Nucklow, derived from the nails of Buddha that were placed here in a stupa.
The park was developed by the Lucknow Development Authority in 1980 over an area of ten acres. It hosts a giant idol of Buddha on a giant marble platform. It is located close to Rumi gate, Bara Imambara and Martyrs Memorial in the old city of Lucknow and is imbued with a peaceful ambience with its serene environment and exquisite beauty.
It has artistically landscaped gardens, fountains, lamp posts, benches, railings, a variety of plants and several small statues. A favourite destination of the local visitors as well as the tourists, the park offers a host of recreational activities both to the children and grown ups.
While there are several facilities for the children to play a variety of games and sports and enjoy big rides, the elders can enjoy paddle boating in the canal running through it.
Constantia, one of the most visited tourist destinations in Lucknow is the name of the residence of Major General Claude Martin, a Frenchman hailing from Lyons in France. The residence was built in 1751. There are several stories related to the name of the house, one of them being that it is named after Constance, a lady from France whom Martin deeply loved.
Constantia sprawls over a raised area of around 200 acres. It reflects several eccentric and extravagant architectural styles. Visit the residence and you will be able to see several strange statues including those of two gigantic lions with impressive eyes.
Constantia is also home to Lucknow’s most famous school, La Martiniere, named after Martin. The college was built after his death in accordance to his will. The school was started in 1840 and was meant to teach the boys of all religions. Constantia also contains the grave of his son Claud Martin who died in 1800.
Colvin Talukdar’s College is actually one of the oldest schools in India. It was established by Sir Auckland Colvin, the Lieutenant Governor of Awadh and Agra in those times in the Hasanganj area of Purana Haidrabad near the bank of river Gomti. The school was originally built with the aim of providing education to the children of British officers and the landed aristocrats or Talukdars.
It prepares the students for the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination. It was opened to the general public after the Independence of India after 1947. It has three hostels for boys called Avadh, Anjuman and Hind. Like most public schools, it also has a house system.
There are five houses, Ajanta, Nalanda, Sanchi, Taxila and Ujjain. The college holds its annual sports and alumni day under the name of the Darbar Day in December. The institution has produced some of the most eminent personalities of India including film personalities Javed Akhtar and Muzaffar Ali; politicians Chaudhary Ajit Singh and Jitendra Parsad besides many others.
Chowk, a kind of plaza in Lucknow, is an iconic public place. Its history dates back to the mid eighteenth century. It had three important historical landmarks in it, Gole Darwaza, the Tomb of Shah Mina, a Muslim saint and a fort palace called Panch Mahal, which later came to be known as Machchi Bhawan in 1766.
There were two reasons for the change in name of the Panch Mahal. One, the fort had twenty-six arches and each arch had an emblem of two fishes or Machchi on it. The second reason was that its owner, a Shiekh was conferred the title of Mahi Martib or the honour of Fish by the Mughal Emperor.
Moreover, a fish is also considered an auspicious animal. The emblem of fish can still be viewed not only on several buildings in the Chowk, but also on the seals of the government. The chowk has grown in popularity and gradually become the hub, a core of the old city of Lucknow. A large variety of important public, cultural, historical and commercial buildings have come up around it.
Bara Imambara means a big place of worship. It is also called Asfi Imambara after the name of Asaf-ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Lucknow, who built it in the year 1783. The imambara is one of the most magnificent buildings in the city. The complex comprises a shrine, bhul bhulayian — labyrinth, a bowli or a step well, and also the grave of the late Nawab, which is located under a canopy.
The architectural design of the Imambara incorporates typical decorative Mughal style as represented by the Badshahi Mosque of Lahore in Pakistan, which is considered to be the fifth biggest mosque in the world.
A striking feature of its design is that it does not use iron or incorporate any feature of European style architecture. The ceiling of the 50x16x15 m central hall of the building does not have any supporting beams.
Bara Imambara is known for its labyrinthine and confusing passages that interconnect with each other and have 489 doorways. It is believed that there is a mile long tunnel (now blocked) that leads to the Gomti river.
Begum Hazrat Mahal Park was built in the memory of the wife of the last Nawab of Awadh, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and is named after her. It stands in the centre of the city just close to Hotel Clarks Awadh. The begum took charge of the affairs of Lucknow after her husband was deported to Kolkata.
She put up a brave fight against the British but was forced to take refuge in Nepal where she died in 1879. Post-independence, the UP Government built a memorial in her name and opened it to the public on 15th August 1962.
The memorial contains a marble tablet with four circular brass plaques and the coat of arms of the royal family of the state of Awadh. The park has now become a haven for the morning walkers. It contains beautifully landscaped grassy lawns interspersed with marble pathways.
The evenings offer a delightful feast to the eyes when the fountains start gushing arched streams of water as the park and the artificial ponds in it are covered with a flood of light.
Chattar Manzil or Umbrella Palace is so called because the dome on it has a gilded umbrella. The palace has a checkered history as its ownership has changed several hands. It was first built by General Claud Martin as his residence in 1781 on the bank of Gomti River in Lucknow. It was purchased by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. Later on Nawab Ghazi Uddin Haider started to extend its construction, but it was completed by his successor Nawab Nassir Uddin Haider.
The palace currently houses the office of the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI). It remained a place of residence of Nawabs of Awadh and their wives and also became a focal point for the meeting of freedom fighters during the first war of Indian Independence in 1857.
A unique and intriguing feature of the historical building is its underground halls called tahekhanas. They were built in the water of the river Gomti so that they could remain cool during the hot summer months.
The palace has, therefore, become a favourite visiting destination of the curious tourists as well as some of the famous professional photographers such as Samuel Bourne, Darogah Ubbas Ali, Felice Beato and Thomas Rust.
1857 Memorial Museum was set up to highlight the struggle of the people of India and also the role played by the people of Lucknow during the momentous period of the history of India’s first war of Independence. It is well known that Lucknow was the epicentre of important events in the uprising against the British rule.
The museum is located in the annex of the Residency Building, and the exhibits offer a lucid account of the freedom movement. They include the artifacts discovered from the excavation of the Residency, a loaded revolver, porcelain items, wine bottles, documents, photographs, paintings, shields, lithographs, weapons, cannon balls, arms and ammunition, guns, muskets, cannons, badges and a host of similar other important items of memorabilia.
The exhibits are arranged in a way to give a systematic and chronological account of the events of the freedom struggle. There are several maps that show the strategic locations in Lucknow including the map and model of the Residency. The museum is spread over the ground floor and the basement area of the building. There are four galleries on the ground floor and seven in the basement.
Dilkusha Kothi is situated in the Dilkush area of Lucknow on Gomti river. Constructed in 1800 by a British Major Gore Ouseley, a friend of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan, the then Nawab of Awadh, this ancient monument currently lies in a ruined state. The architectural design of the building was based primarily on the pattern of the Seaton Delaval Hall of Northumberland in England.
It was originally built to serve as a hunting lodge for the Nawabs, but later on it came to be used as their summer house as well. Strangely enough, the Kothi does not have any courtyard and appears undersized for the residence of the Nawabs who generally live in spacious palaces.
It acquired a great historical importance when it was used by the freedom fighters during the first war of Indian Independence in 1857. It was, however, captured by the British forces after a heavy bombardment and consequently it lost all its glory and magnificence.
Situated in the centre of the city on Vidhan Sabha Road on the bank of river Gomti, Council House is currently being used as the Vidhan Sabha Bhawan of the state of Uttar Pradesh. It was built by the then British Government of UP when they transferred the capital from Allahabad to Lucknow. The design of the building was prepared by Sardar Hira Singh and Mr. Zecob.
The foundation stone of the imposing palatial building was laid by Sir Harcourt Butler in 1922 and its construction was completed in 1928, after a period of six year. Council House is regarded among the most magnificent and picturesque buildings in the city of Lucknow. Built with Mirzapur stones and aesthetically designed in octagonal shape, the awesome looking building cost Rs.18 lakhs in those days.
The capacious theatre-like halls and chambers of the building hold assembly sessions and meetings of the legislators. It has a dome-shaped top which is decorated with the motifs of peacock in full plume.